Small, oil-rich smelts called eulachon return to spawn each spring in the Fraser, Skeena, Nass and Klinaklini river systems in British Columbia. The scientific name for Pacific Ocean eulachon is Thaleichethys pacificus, which means rich ocean fish. Eulachon is also known as oolichan, ooligan or candlefish because their oil content is so high they can be lit like a candle when dried.
Eulachon has always been a cultural keystone species for Pacific Northwest Indigenous people. Eulachon grease was a valuable trading commodity, and there were at least 23 main “grease trail” trade routes connecting the coast to the interior of B.C.
The once-abundant pacific eulachon species is now in decline. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has assessed three populations in Canada: Fraser River as Endangered, Central Pacific Coast as Endangered and Nass/Skeena Rivers as species of Special Concern.
Fraser River eulachon comes home to spawn in the lower reaches of the river’s arm as far upstream as the Heart of the Fraser. Habitat loss, pollution, directed fisheries, logging, and marine mammal predation can all create adverse conditions for the fish. One of the threats to the eulachon’s recovery is streamflow alteration from banking and road building.
Please help us defend eulachon spawning and rearing habitat by signing the petition to oppose the approval of a permanent bridge and development on the Heart of the Fraser islands.